Aug 16, 2020


AFL Mad Scramble: Day Nineteen


A column every day for twenty days, as we get more football than we even asked for.

Occasionally, this column will even mention football but rarely sensibly.


North Melbourne (52) v Brisbane (53)

You can’t just turn up and just expect to get the four points against North Melbourne.

Well, you can, Brisbane did here, but it’s risky.

North certainly showed a lot of effort given their injury list contains more horror than the complete works of Stephen King.

Rhyce Shaw has set a tone that he’s not gifting anyone games, even if over half his team is injured, and the players responded, putting everything into this.

The Lions played like a bunch of players who expect to get games no matter what, and not for the first time this season, Chris Fagan had to yell at them, like a disappointed father whose kids have been caught wagging school.

His half time spray got the Lions to do the bare minimum, but nothing more, a worry for a team that is meant to have premiership aspirations.

Their aspirations are a bit like mine to have friends, possible but looking increasingly unlikely.

Melbourne (100) v Collingwood (44)

If you’re a Pies supporter, this would have made you angrier than a Sky News commentator.

The Pies handed in one of their worst performances in sometime, up against a Melbourne side that seems to have learnt that taking the time to engage your brain can pay off with big dividends.

The Demons dominated from start to finish, displaying an energy, discipline and skilfulness I can’t remember them showing in a long time.

The Pies skill level was alarming, missing simple handballs and turning over the ball so often it looked like it was something they trained to do.

On the flip side, Melbourne players who a few weeks ago couldn’t hit a target if their lives depended on it were suddenly kicking the ball like Darren Jarman.

It was a case of Melbourne’s long vaunted talent manifesting into reality.

The challenge for the Dees is to maintain this standard of play across months, not a short burst.

What it showed is what the Yankees great Yogi Berra once said is true, “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.”

What the game did show was how at any time, AFL remains an incredibly tough game to play.

Brody Mihocek was stretched off after being collected by Aaron vandenBerg’s elbow in a fair but brutal contest.

“Footy has gone soft,” say people who wouldn’t have made it through that collision.

Stamping out the cheap shots behind the play hasn’t changed the fact that the 360-degree nature of our sport makes the game not for the feint-hearted and we all just hope Mihocek makes a full and swift recovery.

Fremantle (36) v Carlton (40)

There’s a lot to unpack here, as my removalist once said to me.

If you’re a Fremantle supporter, this was the greatest miscarriage of justice since Lindy Chamberlain.

For Blues fans it was one of the greatest games of all time.

Fremantle had led for almost all the game, in what was for long stretches a dour display in the rain, but the second half had seen the Blues wrestle control back. 

But Carlton looked like blowing their comeback in the dying stages when Liam Jones missed a shot, only to trigger a few seconds of footy more chaotic than my thought processes.

With 16 seconds remaining, Fremantle’s Matt Taberner was pinged for a deliberate out of bounds, which was probably there.

Then Sam Docherty took the free, and played on quickly, and in what is normally Carlton’s fashion, kicked the ball out on the full, but as he kicked, Andrew Brayshaw made contact with him and the umpire awarded a free down the field.

This call was either totally there, if you’re a Blues supporter, or a travesty of justice and proof the game is corrupt, if you’re a Fremantle supporter.

I thought it was borderline, which is the problem, it could have gone either way, you’d see it sometimes called and other times not.

With the downfield free, it was meant to go to the closest player, which would have been Michael Gibbons or Eddie Betts, but somehow Jack Newnes ended up with it.

This was the decision that Fremantle fans have a right to be most angry about, although you don’t know if either Betts or Gibbons could have kicked it. Ok, probably not Gibbons.

Then as if this wasn’t all strange enough, these last 16 seconds went for two hours, as Newnes tried to take the kick on the boundary, a cameraman with all his gear seemed not to keen to get out of his way.

Newnes had to actually remove some of the cameraman’s gear himself, with the cameraman less helpful than a member of the mafia in a police interview.

As Newnes got ready to take the kick, I wondered what of the two powerful forces at work would win out, those forces being Carlton’s ability to let down their fans, or Fremantle’s masochistic relationship with theirs?

Talk about the immovable object meeting the irresistible force.

The minute it left Newnes’ boot, the ball was home, a goal that was as skilful as it was controversial.

Even if you think all the free kicks were there, Carlton were very lucky to have the ball end up in Newnes’ hands, and Fremantle fans have a right to be furious, any supporter would be if they were on the end of that.

But Carlton fans won’t care, their team lifted in the second half and as you have to sometimes do, you take the next chance. And the next. On and on until you win... or the chances are spent.


Western Bulldogs v Adelaide (Metricon) 1:05pm Foxtel

The recent correspondence I’ve received has been a real insight into the minds of Western Bulldogs supporters.

I’ve never wanted to delve into their minds, but we’ve all realised that 2020 means things you’d always hoped to avoid are not so avoidable.

Bulldogs supporters have been complaining to me that I said the Crows won’t win a game this season, just before the Doggies play them.

It’s an insight into their psyche that they are confident such a terrible thing as being the first team to lose to the Crows will happen to them.

They may be the group of fans with the lowest self-esteem to have won a premiership in recent memory.

I can’t see them losing this. The Crows are a Victorian economy size mess, who lack talent, belief and skill. Apart from that they’re going well.

Personally, I believe the next AFL player or official to break COVID regulations would be made to coach the Crows. That will fix that mess.

Bulldogs to win.

St Kilda v Essendon (G) 3:35pm Seven

Essendon this week announced David Zaharakis will miss the rest of the season, adding to the Bombers’ injury crisis.

It’s an injury crisis so bad that the club has a new marketing campaign to ‘flatten the curve’ but that horse has bolted, and probably injured itself doing so.

You know things are Essendon are in trouble, someone will call for the return of James Hird as Brendon Goddard did this week.

It’s like clockwork.

St Kilda are coming off a brutal schooling at the hands of the Cats, and it will be interesting to see if they learnt anything from that, or they’re destined to move to that class with the kid that threw a rock at a teacher, the one that graffitied the principal’s car and the student that tried to set the gym on fire.

You’d think they’d respond after that loss, but sometimes when you’ve been embarrassed you go a bit into your shell, stop leaving your house and start an inane footy blog.

Saints to win.

West Coast v Hawthorn (OS) 6:10pm Foxtel

This will be a fun game to watch for Eagles supporters and no one else.

For neutrals, and Hawks fans, the only point of interest is enjoying the commentators taking a crack at pronouncing Changkuoth Jiath. 

Footy commentators can mangle any name, often to the point of naming the complete wrong player.

Brian Taylor has twice called Harry Cunningham, ‘Brad Seymour’, this season, despite Seymour playing his last game in 2003.

Hawthorn have plunged to new lows this season, and this game could show that rock bottom has a basement.

It would be impossible for the Eagles to lose this, unless, of course, their 22 players fall victim to 22 separate misfortunes and are unable to play.

But that will never happen. Three misfortunes, that's possible... seven misfortunes, there's an outside chance... but 22 misfortunes-- I'd like to see that.

Eagles to win.

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Aug 16, 2020

Freo fans would need memories like a goldfish if they can't remember how they got their first goal.

Distinguished Guy

Aug 16, 2020

Just loved 'For neutrals, and Hawks fans, the only point of interest is enjoying the commentators taking a crack at pronouncing Changkuoth Jiath. ' Your daily work has become one of my joys.


Aug 16, 2020

Oh God, you had to say it, didn't you...
"It would be impossible for the Eagles to lose this..."
You've just jinxed us Titus, if we lose, it's all your fault!

The g train

Aug 16, 2020

There are respectable losses, close losses, agonising losses, heartbreaking losses, gut wrenching losses, soul destroying losses, “wish the universe never existed” losses, and then there is the Freo loss to Carlton yesterday. Words and phrases haven’t been invented yet that even remotely describe this type of loss.


Aug 16, 2020

Another Titus gem........"rock bottom has a basement"! The perfect place for Hawthorn.

Ross Lyin

Aug 16, 2020

The recipient of the Tabs free kick plays on out of bounds five metres past the mark and kicks it out on the full to top it off


Aug 16, 2020

That whole last quarter of the freo/blues game from a neutral supporter was just comical! Ordinary footy/goal kicking/umpiring and then the finale! Freo kick it out on the full then blues kick it straight back out on the full only to get a down field free kick, then the whole shit with the camera man only for him to slot it! Who would of guessed he would actually kick it!! HA hilarious footy!


Aug 16, 2020

2016 GF was greater and more prolonged travesty

The Dude Abides

Aug 16, 2020

I am very pleased for you Titus. Was that you on your terrace rooftop late last night, arm in arm with yourself, belting out a hearty version of 'Its a grand old flag' albeit through a Chemist Warehouse disposable mask?

It's like the glory days of '64 are coming in to view, now that the Dees are firmly entrenched in the eight. A flag would be a fitting way to lift the spirits of the long suffering club supporters and indeed the citizens of the Paris of the south.


Aug 16, 2020

Titus, what was your punishment for throwing a rock at the teacher? Asking for a friend.

Tarax Club

Aug 16, 2020

TITUS viewing fatigue coupled with fanciful myopia seems have kicked in here. Your claim that Brody Mihocek was collected by Aaron vandenBerg's elbow is plainly incorrect. It was an old fashioned albeit unfortunate full bodied collision, both opponents had eyes on the sherrin. In fact, vandenBerg who had greater momentum made contact with the a ball first, Mihocek made contact with vandenBerg's upper torso and hit the ground hard. Newton's second law of motion F = ma applies.

Pinghan Chua

Aug 16, 2020

Some of your most eloquent writing yet, Titus. I love it when you mix in a bit of pathos with your brilliant brand of humour.


Aug 16, 2020

Titus a favour. Please keep tipping against the Dees. Seems to be working!


Aug 16, 2020

How many times can you be 2 points down in the final quarter without chewing your fingernails to the elbow!?! Please, please Titus don't tip Carlton to win ever again, we just evaded the hex this time but I couldn't stand to go through a final quarter like that another time.


Aug 16, 2020

In all seriousness, I reckon Newnes was so annoyed at the photographer (I mean seriously dude just get out of the way!) that he forgot to be nervous about the shot for goal................

Kafka’s is

Aug 16, 2020

22 Misfortunes? It’s either a heavy metal band, a baroque opera or 2020 in a nutshell.

andrew hodder

Aug 16, 2020

Re: the Mel v Coll game...I'm a keen historian of football, while engendering an uncanny perspective of the modern game. I've raked over the last 75 years and have come up with the three greatest ruckmen to have played the game: Polly Farmer, John Nichols and Braydon Preuss. Can't see how we can fit big Max back into the side.

Mr Consistent

Aug 16, 2020

Brilliant work Titus. Go Dees!


Aug 16, 2020

Just watching and wondering why West Coast Eagles fans seem to leave early, even when they’re winning? Fair enough if you were a Hawthorn supporter but I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to stay to the end if you’re winning.

Flank Rroyd Wlight

Aug 16, 2020

"Just watching and wondering why West Coast Eagles fans seem to leave early, even when they’re winning? ... I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to stay to the end if you’re winning."

Maybe they have to drive back to Geraldton or Kalgoorlie.

Rodger King

Aug 16, 2020

I'd like to congratulate the most consistent team in the league, the only football club you can absolutely put your house on, week in and week out, not to win. With each loss, we are one game closer to winning. Just eyeing the draft picks coming up, I wonder if we'll get a couple of concession picks as well. Then all we'd have to do is pick some lads who have both talent and heart and the desire to stay put for more than a few years. Car'n the CROWS.


Aug 17, 2020

“....and as you have to sometimes do, you take the next chance. And the next. On and on until you win... or the chances are spent.....” is this the paraphrase of the speech in that Star Wars whereby they storm the beach in that homage to WWII D Day?

And now comes the last game of the eagles at home before another visit out into the weird hub thing where all hope of a victorious season gets flushed away on the altar of “Queensland Saving The Competition...”


Aug 17, 2020

Titus - you’ve just noticed this about Dogs supporters? (Danny from Droop Street says “hi”.)


Aug 17, 2020

As a saints fan, the words 'schooling' and 'fire' still sit uneasily with me. They bring back memories of Mr Nixon and a dwarf's shoelaces. The entertainment is now on the field. Go Saints!

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